Gulf Coast at LibroFEST 2015

Mandi Casolo

Last weekend, Gulf Coast Journal celebrated Latino literature, culture, and Hispanic heritage heroes at Houston’s LibroFest. In the festival’s fourth year, literary arts organizations, magazines, activists, writers, and vendors spent the beautiful afternoon in the Houston Public Library square celebrating the vibrant Latino community and its love for literacy. 

Gulf Coast Journal exhibits at LibroFest 2015 

The celebration began at 10am when Jefferson Davis High School’s Mariachi Pantera woke up the plaza at the Houston Public Library's downtown branch, and with a reading Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask by Xavier Garza, a Rio Grande native, and award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. Garza is a masterful bilingual writer and has received critical attention for the access he’s given children to the Chicano struggle between tecnicos, working-class heroes who play fairly and honorably, and rudos, bad guys who cheat their way to the top; the battle between good and evil!

“The sport [lucha libre] became ‘‘a poor man’s theater,” according to Garza. ‘‘Somehow, in the nick of time, the good guy will triumph,” Garza said. ‘‘And if he doesn’t, it’s to set up a bigger match down the road.” Once a loser is determined, he’s unmasked, revealing his true identity.”

Young festival-goers crafted brightly colored Luche Libre masks of their own in a workshop hosted by Pop Shop Houston.

Children at Librofest 2015 

In the afternoon, Lupe Mendez, a Texas poet and performer, led other young writers in a Barrio Writers Poetry Slam, and festival attendees visited vendors, and interacted with speakers and community arts activists.  

 Workhorse Print Makers hosted a letterpress workshop for hand-crafted posters that featured a Sandra Cisneros quote: “ You might know her best from her novel, The House on Mango Street but she’s also celebrating the launch of her newest book, A House of My Own, a memoir, and will be reading from it on October 12th with Inprint’s Margaret Brown Root Reading Series. Hope you all have a ticket!

 Workhorse Printmakers Letterpress Posters

Little Red Leaves Journal & Press showcased their Textile Series of hand-sewn books of poetry, blank notebooks and journals. Each one had its own personality--pieces of art from the inside, out.

 Poetry books published by Textile Series, Little Red Leaves Press

Monica Villareal and Jorge Galvan Flores (below) are two of the city's talented graphic artists. Monica wore a Voices Breaking Boundaries t-shirt in support of the Houston grassroots arts organization that incites social justice through art. They work to create open conversations and new experiences of the city's cultural history and present. These guys do it all: performance art, dance, graphic design, photography--you name it. Go like the organization's Facebook page--they deserve support!

 Graphic Artists at LibroFest 2015The festival was so inspiring. Gulf Coast, Green Mountain, GC’s sister journal, and their staff had so much fun at their booths representing the University of Houston’s literary arts, playing banana-grams, speaking with people about the journals, and celebrating such an important and impactful part of the city’s literary community.

 Gulf Coast Journal Editor in Chief at LibroFest 2015

Here is a list of LibroFest’s participants. If you’d like to know more about them, connect with an artist or writer, teach a workshop at WriteSpace, become an activist, or volunteer, click on the organization’s name!

Sugar & Rice Magazine

Houston Library

Arte Publico Press

Inprint 

Gulf Coast Magazine

Voices Breaking Boundaries

Little Red Leaves

Workhorse Letter Press 

Writespace

Houston Writers Guild

Inklings Press

Zine Fest Houston

Glass Mountain Journal 

Domestic Papers

Pop Shop Houston

Friends of the Houston Public Library

 

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